First, a sampler. Now, a synth. Pioneer DJ, not content with essentially owning the DJ booth at this point, have their second production instrument in less than a year.

It’s called the Toraiz AS-1. It’s an analog monosynth. It continues the collaboration with synthesizer legend Dave Smith.

toraiz-as-1-main-n

Price: US$499 or €549 suggested retail, including VAT.
Availability: March 2017.

And it looks … well, like it was heavily influenced by the 303, and even Roland’s AIRA TB-03. Like the TB-03, there’s a touch pad at the bottom of the unit with 303-style key layout. Controls are really heavily simplified – there’s a vertical touch strip on the left, controls for the low-pass and high-pass filter, two knob envelope controls (hey, you know), and an LFO. You also get push-button access to transposition, effects, sequencer, and keyboard/arp controls. And, perhaps in a nod to the fact that Pioneer cater to DJs, there are prominent dedicated controls for tap tempo and bpm. (The “divide” option is also clever.)

But mainly it looks as though you’ll dial up presets, then play along on the touch controls and sequencer while adjust filter and envelopes.

So, what’s the sound about? It has the filters from Dave’s Prophet-6. And the architecture is fairly basic:

2 voltage-controlled oscillators (VCO) with continuously-variable triangle, sawtooth, and pulse wave shapes.
One 4-pole, resonant low-pass filter that can self-oscillate
One 2-pole, resonant high-pass filter.

(Curiously, they describe the oscillators as analog, but only the filters as coming from Dave Smith – not sure if there’s a different oscillator design here. I’ll talk to Dave and co.)

Actually, if they had just done that, I think it’d be a total failure. But the smart move here was to add Dave Smith’s effects, too – again from the Prophet-6.

You can add one or two effects, choosing from:

Bucket Brigade Delay, Distortion, Ring Modulation, Chorus and Maestro Phaser.

toraiz-as-1-rear-new

Plus you get MIDI in and out, and – here’s Pioneer’s lock-in – Pioneer Link support. So you can plug it into a CDJ and sync to that.

That’s the part that to me is, frankly, unnerving. Pioneer can lock other synthesizer makers out of the DJ booth, and I don’t see how that’s terribly terrific for anyone.

But, on the other hand, by letting synthesizers into the DJ booth in the first place, Pioneer may unwittingly create some demand for sync interoperability with its gear. Let’s watch.

Make a basic two-oscillator synth, throw in some good Dave Smith filters and effects, and then make the thing easy to play and sequence – that sounds like a decent formula.

Now if you’re wondering whether producers other than die-hard Pioneer fans will give it a go – I’m wondering that, too. I’d like to give it a tough test from both the DJ and producer perspective. Hope we can convince Pioneer to get CDM a review unit in a hurry.

True analog sound from Dave Smith Instruments’ Prophet-6
Two voltage-controlled oscillators
Two voltage-controlled filters
Two envelope generators
Voltage-controlled amplifier and low-frequency oscillator
Full programmability with 495 presets, 495 user programs and Quick Program
Dual FX engine with seven FX (six from the Dave Smith Instruments Prophet-6 synth)
Touchpad-style keyboard and slider
Scale Mode
Arpeggiator
64-step sequencer with Sequence Lock
Bright OLED display
Easy connection to a PC/Mac or an external MIDI device
Robust metal chassis

https://www.pioneerdj.com/en/product/production/toraiz-as-1/black/overview/

  • papernoise

    Well… I’ll admit that this was a bit unexpected! Though it makes sense I guess… from a marketing point of view. The weird part is that it’s kind of an in-between thing in a certain regard. Not quite monotron-volca and not quite a full-blown monosynth, but I guess they have done their homework and all the focus group studies… and that’s the unfilled niche nobody has claimed yet.

    • Dubby Labby

      Pionotron came to my mind when I saw it. :V

  • KingKaos

    “the unfilled niece nobody has claimed yet” – aaaaarrgh, that sounds soooooo icky…; ) It’s clear what you mean but could someone please correct that typo?

    • papernoise

      Hahaha yeah… it’s really horrible, now that you mention it. I’ve edited it. thanks for pointing it out.

  • Tommy Preger

    I don’t get how Pioneer Link support is unnerving? It also has MIDI, right? So you could link it to a CDJ and then have it spit out MIDI to sync with other gear? (i’m just guessing this is possible) That would be the opposite of locking out other synths!

  • itchy

    for this price you can get a nice dark energy or something.

    • James

      THANK YOU!! Someone with a brain. Even a discontinued MK-1 no less.

      • Spankous

        I would say you can get almost 2 used dark energy Mk2 synths . The Mk1 should be harder to find 2 times. Or an Erebus, or 2 monologues or 1 minilogue Or, Or Or many other synths (that btw have Line In 🙂

  • Hazey Graves

    Couple of mistakes I think…

    They actually say its 1 voice of the Prophet-6, not just the filters.

    And it doesn’t look like it has Pioneer DJ Link. They don’t mention it anywhere and the port doesn’t seem to be visible in the photos.

  • I’m feeling Terribly “Meh” about this.

  • Yanakyl

    What’s that trig in?
    Audio in would be cool, especially with the effects.

  • Spankous

    Allow me one sentence for anyone who cares and knows what i mean. Prophet Filter + No..Audio…In…

    • James

      Toraiz SP-16 would be their answer to you.

      • Spankous

        Because the SP 16 is an analog monophonic synthesizer with a Prophet filter section? Not only does it cost 3 times more but even if it was to cost the same your suggestion is like when someone wants to-considers buying a bicycle that lacks grips for the steerer and he finds it weird and someone tells him that a jet ski might be the answer to his problems. Thank you nontheless!

  • FS

    looks awesome.

  • Why are you all such naysayers? I hink it’s a nice new follow-up to the Mopho. It’s got a full analog synth voice under its sleeve, although we still have to see how it works in real life with so few knobs and buttons. But DSI have shown with the Prophet 12 module that they are capable of writing an OS that can work well with few controls. And what’s not to like about a Prophet 6 voice with MIDI, USB, effects, stereo out and tons of memory for your sounds? And not to forget, a 64 step (!!!) sequencer.

  • Mario Rodriguez

    High end volca

  • Will

    Hope the next gen Volcas allow scale based input on the flat playing surface.